Bush and Neocons Lose Big One

Bush is discontinuing efforts to ease pollution restrictions by coal-burning power plants, which was a key plank in his original energy agenda. Environmentalists were successful in winning an earlier federal court decision that halted significant components of Bush's policies. As a result, the EPA said it did not have time to complete the rules changes. Oh boo hoo.

The Bush administration said Wednesday that it was abandoning its pursuit of two proposed regulations relaxing air-pollution standards for power plants, surprising both industry and environmentalists by ending its pursuit of one of the last remaining goals set out by Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force in 2001.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s public affairs office sent out a brief statement by e-mail announcing that it would not pursue the changes in how power-plant emissions are measured, which would have allowed increases of hundreds of thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the building blocks of smog and fine-particulate pollution.

That proposal had been opposed by senior agency officials, both in the enforcement section of the agency’s Washington headquarters and in regional offices like San Francisco.

An agency representative also confirmed that the administration was giving up its effort to make it easier for utilities to put new power plants near national parks, by weakening existing protections intended to prevent deterioration in the parks’ air quality. In the past decade or so, visibility has diminished at parks from the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee to Acadia in Maine.

Jonathan Shradar, an agency spokesman, said Wednesday evening that the agency made the decision despite weeks of frantic work trying to complete the rules. The White House said months ago that no new rules should be imposed in the administration’s last days. [NY Times]

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